The Kansas Bioscience Authority announced this week that they will fund the Kansas Innovation Center for Advanced Plant Design in the amount of $4 million for fiscal year 2010.
The Innovation Center is a public and private collaboration between Kansas Wheat, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and many private investors. The Center will use a unique, state-of the art technology platform to conduct wheat, sorghum and native plants research targeted to specific market needs in the areas of human health and nutrition, animal nutrition and health and biofuels/biomaterials. Once discoveries are made, the Center will focus on commercializing these discoveries, bringing them to market to create additional value and wealth for Kansas.
The Kansas Wheat Commission was the lead applicant for the KBA grant. The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers incorporated the business entity for the Innovation Center called Heartland Plant Innovations. Wheat producers, through KAWG, own 51% of the shares of Heartland Plant Innovations.
"Kansas Wheat is very excited and grateful to receive this award from the Kansas Bioscience Authority," said Kansas Wheat CEO Dusti Fritz. "The technology resulting from the Center will allow farmers to be more efficient while producing high-quality, affordable food. When fully operational, the Innovation Center will be the premiere wheat and sorghum research facility in the nation."
An interim director for the center has been hired, and the first meeting of the board of directors will be in early June. The Board of Directors will perform a national search for a permanent director. The director will coordinate the research of highly skilled scientists at the Center, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas.
Some expected outcomes from the Center include: commercialization of sustainable, drought-tolerant, high-yielding varieties; foods with reduced allergenicity; new food products that are rich in antioxidants and cancer-fighting components; plant-derived compounds that are natural sources for dietary supplements; high biomass plants optimized for cellulosic biofuel production; high starch-content grains for animal feeds and ethanol that will ultimately result in animal wastes with less environmental impact and environmentally-friendly plants that require less fertilizer and pesticides. Predicted Center outcomes have the potential to return at least an additional $1 billion to the Kansas economy through the agriculture sector.